Commons Speaker John Bercow attacks David Cameron for failing to give details of secret emails between himself and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks

 

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, criticised David Cameron today for failing to provide details of a secret tranche of emails between the Prime Minister and Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive.

Downing Street has repeatedly refused to give more information about the exchanges, which were not disclosed to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Mr Cameron sidestepped the subject in the Commons last week and refused to answer five parliamentary questions about it from Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant. He adopted the same approach in a response to a letter from Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader.

Raising a point of order in the Commons, Mr Bryant protested about the stonewalling tactics and condemned the Prime Minister for suffering a “hissy fit” when asked about the communications.

He received backing from the Speaker, who told him questions “should receive a substantive answer”. Mr Bercow also pointed to parliamentary rules which specify that ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and only hold back information when disclosure would not be in the public interest.

The Speaker said Mr Bryant had been advised how to pursue the subject and promised to study future developments.

The Labour MP said: “It is an important principle of this House that ministers have to reply to MPs. They can’t have hissy fits and decide who they are going to reply to and who they are not reply to. Every single MP has to be answered properly and fully.”

The Prime Minister decided not to release the emails – which also include contacts with Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World – after receiving legal advice that they were not relevant to Lord Justice Leveson’s investigation.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We complied exactly with what we have been asked to do. I don’t think there is anyone who has suggested we haven’t.”

Ms Brooks is awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to hack phones and perverting the course of justice. She denies the charges. Mr Coulson also faces charges of conspiring to hack phones and perjury. He denies any knowledge of phone-hacking.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there